I don’t know where it went during the move, but I am not ashamed to admit that I used to have a 5×7 portrait of Gen. Robert E. Lee hanging in my office (and I’d like another). Robert E. Lee was more than just a Confederate General; he was a man of supreme moral character and a leader like few this world has ever seen.
Yet, today, his statue in Virginia – his home state for which he fought – has been torn down by people who have no appreciation for history or bigger men than them. Petty and pitiful men are convinced that the removal of Lee’s statue will move us “forward,” but without a beginning, a foundation, a starting place, a past, there is no moving forward; it’s nothing more than flailing in mid air.
Therefore, I want to share several quotes from the man so many hate, yet know nothing about. The man that was President Lincoln’s first pick to lead the Union Army. The man that was partly responsible for making the South the “Bible belt” through the revivals he encouraged to sweep through the ranks of the troops. The man who hated war and hated slavery!
“I can anticipate no greater calamity for the country than a dissolution of the Union. It would be an accumulation of all the evils we complain of, and I am willing to sacrifice everything but honour for its preservation. I hope, therefore, that all constitutional means will be exhausted before there is a resort to force. Secession is nothing but revolution. The framers of our Constitution never exhausted so much labour, wisdom, and forbearance in its formation, and surrounded it with so many guards and securities, if it was intended to be broken by every member of the Confederacy at will.”
In a letter to his sister, he wrote… “With all my devotion to the Union and the feeling of loyalty and duty of an American citizen, I have not been able to make up my mind to raise my hand against my relatives, my children, my home. I have, therefore, resigned my commission in the Army, and, save in defense of my native state, with the sincere hope that my poor services may never be needed, I hope I may never be called on to draw my sword.”
“What a cruel thing is war; to separate and destroy families and friends, and mar the purest joys and happiness God has granted us in this world; to fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbours, and to devastate the fair face of this beautiful world!”
“My heart bleeds at the death of every one of our gallant men.”
“So far from engaging in a war to perpetuate slavery, I am rejoiced that slavery is abolished. I believe it will be greatly for the interests of the South. So fully am I satisfied of this, as regards Virginia especially, that I would cheerfully have lost all I have lost by the war, and have suffered all I have suffered, to have this object attained.”
“The march of Providence is so slow, and our desires so impatient; the work of progress is so immense and our means of aiding it so feeble; the life of humanity is so long, that of the individual so brief, that we often see only the ebb of the advancing wave and are thus discouraged. It is history that teaches us to hope.“
From the Encyclopedia Britannica:
Although history knows him mostly as “the Rebel General,” Lee was a disbeliever in slavery and secession and was devoutly attached to the republic that his father and kinsmen had helped bring into being. He was, moreover, very advanced in his rejection of war as a resolution of political conflicts—a fact that has been almost entirely ignored by posterity. As a U.S. Army colonel in Texas during the secession crises of late 1860, he wrote, “[If] strife and civil war are to take the place of brotherly love and kindness, I shall mourn for my country and for the welfare and progress of mankind.”
“It is history that teaches us to hope.” Why would we want to erase it?
14 responses to “Gen. Robert E. Lee: A Man Worth Remembering, Not Erasing”
Reblogged this on Citizen Tom and commented:
With the exception of Jesus Christ, we do not build monuments to perfect people. We don’t even build monuments to great people. We live on a small planet that circles a small star. None among us is great.
So, if none of us is great, why do we build monuments? The most memorable monuments — those most admired — we build in gratitude that God gave us someone who could and did lead us with some nobility.
In earlier times, those who supposed themselves great built monuments to themselves. Robert E. Lee however, was one of those who led with some nobility.
If monuments to Lee and other such were built in gratitude, why are these monuments being torn down? Gratitude requires humility. When our nation made the mistake of letting politicians educate its children, too many of those politicians, seeking to please everyone, including special interests, slowly took God out of our schools. Therefore, we have raised generations who refuse to see their own sinfulness, too many unwilling to forgive the sinfulness of previous generations.
Unless we have the humility to understand we too have sinned and need a Savior, we have difficulty forgiving a sin we do not want to believe we could commit. Therefore, too many now have trouble imagining how anyone could be grateful to Lee. Yet the children of people who knew him best built most of the monuments to Lee.
Oddly, gratitude to anyone, even God, requires humility. Until we realize our need, we cannot be grateful to anyone.
Thank you. Brilliant comment.
I was doing some research today for a project I’m peripherally involved in. Pulling some data from old wills and such like.
I was reading one will and the abject horror of slavery crept over me.
A man with 5 children and a wife was dividing a slave family up among his heirs.
Two here, one to that son, then “two negro girls, daughters of Elsie and Sam, to be bequeathed to my daughter.”
Elsie and Sam went to different sons.
I’m reading further and start to have hope when I read, “negros to be hired out to pay sum of $200.” I’m thinking the testator is allowing them to buy their freedom. But then I read on.
The hiring out of the slaves was to support his wife in her widowhood.
And honestly, in that moment today, I bowed my head in shame.
That is certainly tragic and sad.
There’s the myth of The South and the reality of The South.
Have you begun to layer this disgust over the letters of Paul? Ever considered the people that King David enslaved? What about returning Onesimus to Philemon? What kind of church leader could Philemon have been, being a slave owner, and all? Frankly put, the last 150 years in America have been some of the freest in world history. Freedom is a relatively new thing in the big story.
Maybe it’s just different for me because I helped my adopted sister raise her children.
I can’t ever imagine them being bought and sold. It does not compute for me.
But the horror of slavery, that’s what washed over me today, looking at that will.
I thought, “have I never really felt the abject horror of this?”
I felt ashamed that I hadn’t. Or that I hadn’t to the degree that I did today.
You know, I’m a Southerner. I love my South.
But I’m pretty much through defending Southerners who held slaves.
You know Anthony, it was a rich man’s war. Wave after wave of Southerners slaughtered, and for what?
So menstealers could cloak themselves in a fake honor?
I’ve felt like an unreconstructed rebel most of my life. I love the South.
But if the war happened today, it would be our children sent for cannon fodder, not the elites.
Just remember, it’s not as cut and dried as the revisionists and erasers make it out to be. We look back with 20/20, but we did not walk in their shoes. And, remember, till one point there were slaves up north, too. The racists are still there.
Excellent post, Anthony. We are raising idiots.
Well, not MY idiots 😉
Not mine either, but theirs could use some education, except they’re all adults now.
Amen. Great post. I commented on Tom’s re-post, but it bears repeating here. What’s going on has little to do with Confederate racism. It’s political thuggery to create hatred, division, and anarchy. All you need to see are stories like the statue of Black abolitionist Frederick Douglass that was torn down and dump in a river in Rochester, N.Y. The Marxist BLM organization has even talked of removing the Lincoln Memorial if they get their way! Welcome to Orwell’s 1984!
“Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped.” (1984, George Orwell)
Reblogged this on Boudica BPI Weblog and commented:
H/T Citizen Tom